Saturday, August 15, 2020

Another MMBB Block Completed + Best Tricks for Binding Breakthroughs

I finished the last sampler block that was in progress on my cutting table, clearing up the space I needed to finally get my Sermon Scribbles (nee Spirit Song) quilt trimmed up and ready for binding!

That makes a total of 12 out of 48 blocks finished for my version of the Moda Modern Quilt Blocks sampler.  

The blocks are laid out on the design wall now according to where they will be positioned in the finished quilt.  I've completed 25% of the blocks, but I predict smooth sailing with the remaining 36 blocks.  Those enormous blocks were a bear to cut and piece with taped-together templates and foundation paper piecing patterns!

With the MMBB blocks done and off the cutting table, I was able to trim my Spirit Song Sermon Scribbles quilt, attach the quilt label, and start on the binding.

With this quilt's fairly flat Quilters Dream Select Cotton Batting, I cut my binding strips 2" wide and sewed them to the front of my quilt with my walking foot and a 1/4" seam allowance.  Found a new use for my favorite Omnigrid Glow Line Tape, by the way.  My Bernina walking foot has quarter inch reference lines etched on the toes, but they are difficult for me to see easily when the bright LED lights are reflecting off the shiny metal surface of the foot.  I slapped a little piece of yellow Glow Line tape on that right toe to help me keep the raw edges of the quilt and binding perfectly aligned for a 1/4" seam around the perimeter of my quilt.

I finish quilts so infrequently that, when it comes time to finally bind a quilt, I never remember how to do it!  The last time I had a quilt to bind was October of last year, when I finished off a charity donation quilt with machine stitched binding and unleashed an Internet brouhaha over the perils of monofilament thread.  The last time I had a finished personal quilt to bind was in June of last year, when I finished my son's high school graduation quilt.  I had made a note to myself elsewhere on my blog that I am happiest with a 2" cut width for my double fold binding, and I was able -- with some digging and keyword searching -- to locate two videos that reminded me how to reduce the bulk in my corners so the miters come out nice and flat and square.  I'm linking to those videos now so I can find them faster next time I need them instead of wasting so much time hunting for them!  

First Favorite Binding Tutorial: Sharon Schambers

The first one is Sharon Schamber's binding tutorial.  I do not use glue like she does, as I don't see any issue I'm having that glue might solve.  Maybe because I'm sewing my binding on with a walking foot to keep all those layers feeding evenly, while Sharon sews her glue-basted bindings on with a regular presser foot?  Maybe because I've starched my quilt top so heavily throughout construction that it's already fairly stiff and well stabilized along the edges without needing any extra help?  But I do like Sharon's trick of sliding the mitered corner fold in from the edge just a hair, just enough to barely expose the raw edges beyond the fold, like this:

I exaggerated how much I'm scooting the fold in from the edge in that photo.  When you're looking straight down at it, you only want to BARELY see those raw edges on the right side beyond the binding fold.  I can never remember if the trick is to scoot the binding fold just inside the raw edges (yes!) or to scoot the fold out just beyond the raw edges (NO!!).  

Second Favorite Binding Tutorial: Patrick Lose

What I like about Patrick Lose's binding tutorial is his method of clipping away the little folded flag of excess binding from the seam allowance of each corner, without weakening the binding or compromising that sharp 90 degree angle of the corner.  

Third Favorite Binding Tutorial: Missouri Star Quilt Company Demonstrates The Binding Tool from TQM

Oh my gosh, you guys -- I finally figured out why I've never been able to get a perfect binding join using my TQM Binding Tool gadget, no matter how many times I've watched the instructional video, no matter how carefully I measure.  It's always been too loose after I sewed that diagonal joining seam, by approximately 1/2", and I've always had to pick open the seam and sew it a second time.  I couldn't understand why so many other quilters were getting perfect results with this tool every time while I was struggling with it.  

Here is my epiphany: The Binding Tool is designed to work perfectly with binding strips that are cut 2 1/2" wide, not 2" wide like I cut mine!  

As you can see in the photo above, when used with a 2" wide binding strip the diagonal joining seam ends up 1/2" away from the marked line rather than right at the marked line as intended.  I wish this information was included in the product description or in the video tutorials, because that would have saved me lots of frustration -- especially because the manufacturer does make a Mini Binding Tool that IS designed for 2" wide binding.  In any case, I'm glad I figured it out now, and I've ordered the Mini Binding Tool to use on my next quilt.

Look how nice that first mitered corner came out!  THANK YOU, Sharon and Patrick!  

I love hand stitching the binding on my quilts, even though it always takes me several days to get all the way around the quilt.  

I know that 2 1/2" is a common width that quilters today cut their double fold binding strips, but I don't understand why.  Other quilters must be doing something differently than I do?  With a 2" strip folded lengthwise, sewn exactly 1/4" in from the raw edge on the front of my quilt, I have just enough binding wrapping around to the back of my quilt to cover the machine stitching when I stitch the binding down snugly by hand.  If I'd cut this binding at 2 1/2" cut width and sewn it with the same 1/4" seam on the front, the binding would be noticeably wider on the back of the quilt compared to the binding width on the front.  Are other quilters sewing their bindings on with a 3/8" or larger seam allowance when they cut their strips 2 1/2" wide, and if so, how do they prevent losing all of their piecing points on quilts that are pieced right up to the edges of the quilt top?  I learned how to bind quilts from the 2nd edition of the book Quilts! Quilts! Quilts!, published in 1998, and in this book it tells you to cut your binding strips 1 7/8" wide for 1/4" finished width binding:

I purchased the revised edition of the same book when it came out in 2013 (because of the updated projects in the newer edition) and was surprised to discover that the authors had changed their binding instructions and were now advising readers to cut 2 1/4" wide strips for a 1/4" finished width binding.  All other binding instructions seem to be the same, so where is that extra 3/8" of binding going?  Is it because quilters are using thicker battings, or because completely machine stitched binding requires more "insurance", or some other reason? 

I have found the 1 7/8" width to be a little too narrow in the past, but 2" is my sweet spot with the battings I use most often.  If anyone can illuminate me in the comments as to why binding strips have grown so much wider over the past 20 years, I would greatly appreciate it.  

And now, as a special reward for those who have slogged through yet another long and blubbering post with me, enjoy this Puppy Picture of the Day:

My little Sam is now 9 1/2 months old and he probably weighs about a hundred pounds or so.  Haven't been able to get him on a scale recently due to social distancing and "Safer at Home" protocols. He is the snuggliest little sweetie-pie ever and loves to play catch with the tennis balls much more than he's interested in chasing and retrieving them.  Best dog EVER!

I'm linking up today's post with the following linky parties:


·       UFO Busting at Tish in Wonderland


·       Frédérique at Quilting Patchwork Appliqué

·       Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework

·       Slow Stitching Sunday at Kathy's Quilts


·       Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  

·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt

Remember that the Long Arm Learning linky party will be hosted HERE on Tuesday.  Hope to see you then!


Plumdelice said...

So pleased to hear how much progress you've made. Must be so satisfying. I agree with you on the great binding debate. I haven't completed that many quilts, so am still experimenting with binding. Like you, I prefer hand stitching the back and have recently learned to use ladder stitch, which turns out really neat and is completely invisible if pulled tightly enough.
As for binding width, I also find 2.5" is too wide on the back. I haven't tried a 2" binding yet. The Philippa Naylor online quilting course that I've been taking teaches using a 3.5" cut width binding and stitching with a half-inch seam allowance. Philippa actually has a formula for working out binding width. As you've mentioned, this is a problem with losing points, but that isn't so if the outer edge of the quilt is a straight border. I may try it on my current quilt, as although it doesn't have a border, there are no points to lose on this crazy, scrappy make. I'm making it purely for ruler and free motion practice and to use up my pile of scraps. I will donate it to my cats to snuggle on when completed.

piecefulwendy said...

The glow tape is a great tip, and I'm going to try the mitered corner trick too. For years, I have used Missouri Star's "Ultimate Binding Tutorial" (YouTube). I have the binding tools but have never used them. This tutorial works really well for me. As for binding width, I usually use 2-1/4" width. I use a generous 1/4" seam when attaching the binding, and yes, I can lose points sometimes when I do that. Even then, the binding can end up wider on the back unless I keep the edge of the binding close to the line of stitching. Anyway, I've been thinking I should shift down to 2" and see if that works better for me.

Kim said...

Your design wall is a vision splendid with all those bright and happy blocks. Gosh there is a lot of work there to be seen. Thank you for all the links re binding a quilt. 'Tis always a joy for one's eyes to gaze upon a Kaffe Fasset fabric. Such a gorgeous quilt!

Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

Lovely progress on your sampler! Nice to have all the binding videos here, I had to make a special binding post too, as I never remember hot to join the 2 tails ;)).
Thanks for sharing!

CathieJ said...

Your sampler quilt is going to be beautiful. That is going to be one very large quilt. I too enjoy hand-stitching the binding. I always use 2 1/2 in binding as that works best for me. We each have to use what we prefer. I have never used any tools for mitering. I have a couple of books that describe the process so well that it always works for me. I love the fabrics on the quilt that you are binding by the way.

Deanna W said...

Good thing that your pup is lovable and cute...he is going to be a big boy!!

Jill said...

The MMBB blocks are perfect. So colorful. I've also added tape to the Bernina walking foot to make the 1/4" more visible, but alas have not used a neon tape. I shall check out the binding tutorials as I have a quilt patiently waiting for its binding. Sharon's videos are well detailed. Looking forward to Spirit Song's reveal.

beth said...

Love the post, always learning new ways. But I am worried about how big a chair or sofa do you have when Sam snuggles?

The Joyful Quilter said...

I'm with you on the 2" cut binding, Rebecca! Although, I will use 2 1/8" when using thicker materials (whether heavier fabrics or thick batting.) On my last T-Quilt, I decided 2 1/4" would be just right next time, if Minky/Cuddle fabric is involved!

Carla A Few Of My Favorite Things said...

You have done a wonderful job with your blocks! I have never used a binding tool I just overlap the ends the same measurement of the width of my binding then lay the ends across each other and stitch diagonally across that corner and it always comes out right.

LIttle Penguin Quilts said...

I switched to 2 1/4" binding awhile ago because 2.5 was definitely too much, but you may have convinced me that I should try a 2 inch next time! A quilter I know always has the long-armer trim her finished quilt with an extra 1/4 inch of batting left beyond the edge of the quilt. Then it works better for 2.5 inch binding. That binding you used for your finish is perfect for it!

K Yee said...

I use a combination of Sharon Shamber's and Susan Cleveland's methods for my binding, probably with a few things learned over the years that I don't remember. Appreciate the idea for the tape to help get the accurate seam with the walking foot. I do find that I can't sew as straight and as accurate a seam with a walking foot. I think visibility is part of it, but also the way that a walking foot doesn't always sit down on the fabric as its feed dogs move. I will try the Patrick Lose tip as I hadn't seen that one before. I use various widths of cut binding as I don't always do 1/4" binding. Typically wider on large quilts for example. I will also cut wider when I have more bulk (thicker fabrics, thicker batting, adding piping). For 1/4", my standard is to cut at 2 1/4". I actually like to more than generously cover the stitching on the back, rather than have it just meet/cover. That idea is from Susan Cleveland. I think it looks neater on the back, seems to distribute the bulk, and I don't have those places where it doesn't quite make it or I end up really forcing to have it get there.

Tammy Hutchinson said...

As K Yee does, I use a variety of bindings widths, mostly 1 3/4" and 2". I like the method shown on a FatQuarter Shop video with Edyta Sitar, overlapping the binding tails by the width of the binding strip. I sometimes cut out some of the bulk at the corners. My guild hosted a speaker who said that the width of the binding on the back was not important, but what was important was a consistent width and fullness to the binding, so I don't worry about how much gets turned to the back as long as the machine stitching is covered - and I'm not making show quilts anyway!

chrisknits said...

I cut mine 2.25" and use between 1/4" and 3/8" seam allowance. But on borders that have points, 2" and scant 1/4". I find 2.5" WAAAYYYY too big!

Karin said...

I use both...2in or 2 1/2in binding. If I use the 2 1/2in binding strip I cut my backing and quilt top about 1/8in off the edge so I do not have the binding wider in the back. If I want a 1/4in finished binding, my binding strip is cut 2in and the backing at quilt top gets cut right at the edge. Hope this makes sense.

Anonymous said...

I don't know for sure why the binding width would change, but my guess is that before most people finished their binding by hand while many today do it all by machine. If you do it by machine you do the final stitching in the ditch from the front, so if the binding on the back just barely covers the first stitch line and your binding shifts a tiny bit it's more likely that the first stitches will be exposed. If the binding is a bit wider even if it shifts it probably won't show the first line. It's all just theory, though. I don't know for sure.

Andrea in St. Louis

Quilter Kathy said...

Thanks for sharing the binding tips! I use a 2" on mini quilts or hand quilted projects, but on machine quilted projects, I need a 2.25" to cover a multitude of wobbles and uneven edges and a thicker batting. Otherwise there are spots where I can't seem to stretch the binding to cover the 1/4" seam on the back. I aspire to a 2" binding, but not yet :)
Thanks for taking the time to link up with the Slow Sunday Stitchers!

dq said...

Sharon Schamber is a true artist. I used to live near her and have had her in my home. I have learned so much from her, but had forgotten about her. I am glad you posted one of her videos.

Your machine quilting is so beautiful in the border. Looks like lots of ruler work.